A nephrostomy is a procedure in which a tube called a catheter is placed into the kidney. An ultrasound or x-ray images are used to guide the catheter into the kidney.
A nephrostomy is done to drain urine from your kidney. This needs to be done when urine cannot come out as it normally does. Specific conditions that may cause this include:
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A nephroscopy through a nephrostomy may also be used to look at the kidneys and ureters before other procedures are done, such as kidney stone removal. This may also help your doctor make a diagnosis.
Problems from the test are rare. However, all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Your risk of complications may also increase if you have:
You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the skin on your lower back. An IV will be placed. You will receive a sedative, pain medication, and antibiotics through this IV.
A nephrostomy is usually done in an outpatient setting. You will not need to stay in the hospital overnight. Ultrasound or x-ray images will be used to locate the kidney and guide the doctor. A needle will be inserted through the skin and into the kidney. A contrast material will be injected through the needle to better view the kidney on the x-ray. The catheter will then be placed into the kidney. The catheter will come out of your skin and be attached to a collection bag. A dressing will be placed at the insertion site. Urine will drain from the kidney into the collection bag.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for 8-12 hours to make sure the catheter is draining urine. The urine may appear bloody at first. It will clear over time.
You may feel soreness at the insertion site for several days after your nephrostomy. You will be given medication to help with the pain.
After the procedure, the staff may give you the following care to make you more comfortable and to help you recover:
You will be able to leave when your catheter is working and you are comfortable caring for it.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
Follow your doctor's instructions about activity restrictions and wound care to prevent infection. Be careful not to let the collection bag get too full before emptying it.
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Kidney Foundation
Urology Care Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Practice parameter for the performance of percutaneous nephrostomy. American College of Radiology website. Available at: https://www.acr.org/-/media/ACR/Files/Practice-Parameters/percutaneous-nephros.pdf.
Skolarikos A, Alivizatos G, Papatsoris A, Constantinides K, Zerbas A, Deliveliotis C. Ultrasound-guided percutaneous nephrostomy performed by urologists: 10-year experience. Urology. 2006;68(3):495-499.
Wen X , Gao X , Li X, et al. One-step percutaneous nephrostomy in patients with a history of open nephrolithotomy: comparison with the fascial dilator system. J Endourol. 2007;21(11):1281-1285.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD Last Updated: 1/29/2021